Cupcake and kitten-laden photo site Pinterest has bagged $100m in funding from a bunch of investors led by Japanese online retailer Rakuten.
Rakuten said today that it was heading up the multimillion-dollar handout with help from existing Pinterest investors Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners and FirstMark Capital as well as some angel investors.
The etailer is also partnering up with Pinterest to help it expand in Japan and other markets.
"While some may see e-commerce as a straightforward vending machine-like experience, we believe it is a living process where both retailers and consumers can communicate, discover, and curate to make the experience more entertaining," Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten, gushed in a canned statement.
"We see tremendous synergies between Pinterest’s vision and Rakuten’s model for e-commerce. Rakuten looks forward to introducing Pinterest to the Japanese market as well as other markets around the world."
According to the Wall Street Journal, the financing round of $100m gives Pinterest a value of $1.5bn. In the last funding round last year, the company was valued at $200m.
Pinterest is another one of the many new web properties that seem to be popular but haven't actually made any money yet. That hasn't stopped investors of various types pouring in the cash in the hopes that these sites can find a way to monetise their popularity.
According to webby beancounters Alexa*, Pinterest is the 36th most popular site in the world and is ranked 16th in the US.
The site consists of people "pinning" photos of stuff they're interested in or like, which other people can peruse for free. One imagines the only way to make money out of this would be the traditional routes of sticking advertising on the site and/or going subscription, but the company has not made it very clear which of these routes it might go down or if it's had some other brainwave about how to turn its success into cold, hard cash without putting people off.
Nevertheless, Rakuten is a big buddy to have onside: the company has a billion-dollar turnover and has been expanding its retail empire, snapping up the UK's Play.com last year for $39.3m. ®
* Alexa has used a small sample here, because it only counts folks who have the Alexa toolbar on their web browser, but its rankings are based on the last month of average daily visitors and pageviews.